96th Annual Winter Carnival
The oldest continuing Winter Carnival west of the Mississippi River kicks off Wednesday, February 4, 2009. The 96th annual festival runs through Sunday the 8th. Started in 1914 to relieve residents of mid-winter cabin fever the five days of competition and frivolity is organized by the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. The group is one of the largest and oldest winter sports clubs in the U.S.
Events highlight Steamboat’s winter sport traditions with ski jumping competitions, cross-country obstacle race, telemark challenge, snowboarding jam session, soda pop slalom, dual slalom bicycle race and tubing party. Saturday evening all eyes focus on Howelsen Hill for Night Extravaganza featuring glowstick and torchlight parades, fiery hoop jumpers, the legionary Lighted Man and elaborate fireworks. On Sunday the Diamond Hitch Parade down Lincoln Avenue includes the only skiing high school band in the country.
Kids from infant to 14-years-old compete in the street events when snow covers Lincoln Avenue and spectators line the street to watch 3-legged races- on skis, of course, obstacle courses and Dog and Dad Dashes. Children five and younger are pulled on a sled or toboggan by the family dog or dad on all fours. Horse events – ring and box, ski joring, street slalom and donkey jump – mark Steamboat’s western heritage. Adults get in the act with shovel races. Positioned in shovels contestants race down the street pulled by a horse, falling off the shovel is immediate disqualification. The horses used in the competitions are highly trained and specially shodded with cleats for traction in the snow. For three generations a number of Routt County families have served as skilled riders.
Spectators and event participants are encouraged to purchase ($7) and wear an official Winter Carnival button. Proceeds support the SSWSC and its athletes, many whom excel to Olympic competion level.
When You Go: Information on Winter Carnival events from Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Steamboat Springs received more than 100 inches of their trademarked Champagne Powder during both December and January. Today’s snow starts the February count. The skiing is great, to plan you visit contact the Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association.